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The material selection platform
Plastics & Elastomers
Polyetherimide (PEI): A Comprehensive Review

Popular Applications of Polyetherimide (PEI)

PEI’s unique combination of properties makes it the choice of material for a variety of applications. Let’s discuss some of the applications in detail.


Key Applications

Automotive and Aerospace Market

PEI in Automotive Applications Polyetherimide applications in automotive have been increasing due to its replacement with metal, thermosets and bulk molding compounds (BMC). Electrical and lighting systems are the largest application areas for PEI in the automotive market followed by under-the-hood applications.

Polyetherimide is used in applications that require high heat resistance, high strength and modulus and broad chemical resistance.

The principal automotive applications of Polyetherimide include:

  • Transmission components
  • Throttle bodies,
  • Ignition components
  • Thermostat housings,
  • Bezels
  • Reflectors
  • Lamp sockets, and
  • Electromechanical systems such as fuses, gears, bearings, solenoid bodies, ignition switches and oil pump drives

Polyetherimide is also widely used in automotive lighting applications such as headlight reflectors, fog light reflectors, bezels and light bulb sockets. In these applications PEI is selected for its high heat resistance (up to 200°C), ability to be metalized without a primer, and its competitive systems cost versus thermosets.

In aerospace applications, PEI is recommended for its light-weight and electrically conductive properties suitable for EMI shielding, elevated thermal resistance, exception mechanical strength etc. It is used in jet engine components and sheeting of aircraft interiors.

Electrical and Electronical Market

Electrical/electronics is the second most important market for Polyetherimide. In the telecommunications market, there is an increasing need for high heat resistant materials, especially for high-end connectors in the fiber optics segment. PEI resin offers high heat resistance as well as great flow for thin wall design.

PolyetherimideOther applications of Polyetherimide include:

  • Electrical switches and controls
  • Electrical motor parts
  • Printed circuit boards, and
  • Connectors

Polyetherimide is also used in so-called molded interconnect devices (MID). This is because of its unique plating capabilities. PEI allows the combination of electrical functions with the advantages of injection molded 3-D mechanical components.

The key trend influencing further use of polyetherimide in electrical / electronic applications is new product development. To meet the ongoing needs for miniaturization in the electronics sector, (increased packing densities and more lightweight carrier materials) ceramic-filled polyetherimide grades have been developed. These grades have excellent electrical and processing properties, and can also be easily metalized. They are suitable for applications such as:

  • Circuit boards operating in the microwave range as well as internal aerials
  • Electronic chips, and
  • Capacitors

Disposable & Re-Usable Medical Applications

Medical Uses of PEI There are a few significant applications of polyetherimide in the medical sector. PEI resins are suitable for both disposable and re-usable medical devices and for medical monitor probe housing. They possess good combination of properties:

  1. They are autoclavable, both chemical and lipid resistant
  2. They are available in both clear and opaque grades

Polyetherimide also withstands dry heat sterilization at 180°C, ethylene oxide gas and gamma radiation.

PEI finds extensive use in membrane applications due to its separation, permeance, blood and tissue biocompatibility properties. Typical application include membranes for biohybrid applications. Other medical applications of PEI are surgical instrument handles and enclosures, non-implant prostheses etc.

Metal Replacing Property for Industrial Applications & Appliances

Polyetherimide is very often used as a metal replacement material. Common industrial applications of Polyetherimide are listed below.

  • HVAC equipment and fluid handling systems
  • Manufacture of institutional kitchenware

In household and domestic appliances, PEI is widely used in:

  • Microwave cookware
  • Steam and curling irons
  • Dual-ovenable trays for food packaging that meets FDA food packaging requirements



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